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Boxer Kim Duk-koo buried

By
PAUL SHIN

SEOUL, South Korea -- Boxer Kim Duk-koo, who died of injuries suffered in a world title fight in Las Vegas, received one of his nation's top sports honors Monday and the praise of President Chun Doo Hwan.

Hundreds of friends and relatives, led by Kim's mother, Yang Sun-nyo, filed past the boxer's coffin to pay their final respects during a one-hour funeral at Moohhwa Gynamasium.

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Kim's body was then driven to his hometown of Konjin, 100 miles northeast of the capital, for burial.

A U.S. court declared Kim, 23, legally dead Wednesday, four days after he suffered brain damage in a WBA lightweight title fight with Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini in Las Vegas.

'With the entire nation, I express deep condolences to the late Kim Duk-koo and his family and I believe the noble spirit the late Kim has left will live forever in the minds of the Korean people,' Chun said in a letter read at the rites.

Among the 700 mourners was Kim's pregnant fiancee, Lee Young-mi, 22, who had planned to marry the boxer posthumously during the funeral ceremony. However, the 'spiritual marriage' did not occur.

'I am still thinking about that and the final decision will be made later,' she said without elaborating.

During the ceremony, sports Vice Minister Lee Young-ho presented Kim with the Sports Merit, Baekma (White Horse), one of the top national medals given distinguished athletes.

After being mortally injured in the fight, Kim was kept on a respirator until his mother flew to his bedside. When attempts by Korean acupuncturists failed to help him, Mrs. Yang permitted doctors to remove life-support and authorized transplant of his organs.

At the University of California-San Francisco, the two men who received Kim's kidneys were reported in good condition Monday. The transplant patients, whose names were not released, both have been described only as adult males.

Mancini, who was at his Youngstown, Ohio, home Monday, has not announced any plans for the immediate future.

His attorney, Richard White, said: 'Ray does not anticipate any further comment regarding the unfortunate death of Mr. Kim.'

Kim, in a television interview in Seoul before the match, said the encounter with Mancini was going to be 'a life or death fight -- it will be either I finish him in the ring or I am finished.'

Kim, born in a poor family, went to Seoul at age 14 and sold newspapers and shined shoes. He began boxing at 18 and, in February of this year, became the Oriental-Pacific Lightweight champion.

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